Electronic – a typical diode’s ideality factor


Some background, for anyone unfamiliar: The Shockley diode equation is


with the quantity \$n\$ called the ideality factor, a number between 1 and 2. Ideal diodes have an ideality factor of 1, while real diodes do not. (And, to my understanding, the ideality factor of real diodes can depend strongly on temperature and diode current.)

My question is this: What is a typical ideality factor for commercially-available pn diodes at room temperature? In what range can one expect the ideality factor to be? Will it be different for Schottky diodes?

The impression I got from my semiconductor devices class is that it's close to 2 for low currents, shifts nearer to 1 for moderate currents, and goes back to 2 at very high currents; is this correct? Are there more precise numbers available anywhere?

Best Answer

I am currently taking a semiconductor class and we recently did an experiment to measure the ideality factor for two different diodes, one of germanium and one of silicon composition. The experiment found the silicon diode to have an ideality factor of 1 and the germanium to have a factor of 1.4. According to my professor the ideality factor is indicative of the type of charge carrier recombination that is occurring inside of the diode based on the following chart.

This is the meaning of different ideality factors

In order to calculate n, I measured and graphed the I-V (V being the voltage across the diode not the applied voltage) characteristics of the diodes and found the slope as such:The IV characteristics of a silicon diode in a logarithmic scale

Then knowing this relationship where e is the charge of an electron, T is temperature and K is the Boltzman constant and I naught is the inverse saturation current:

relationship between IV

I find the slope of the graph to be:

The slope of the previous graph

Solving for n yields a 1.

I think that answers 3 out of 5 of your questions.

I hope all of that helped!